Today’s travel seekers don’t want ads, they want conversation. With the wealth of content available on the internet, consumers have turned their attention to finding information that is most relevant to their personal interests. As a result, personalised marketing is becoming an art-form.
Recent studies published by travel agencies, Blitz and Amp revealed 72% of consumers reported feeling overwhelmed when planning for a trip. With the travel sector being so highly competitive, consumers are spoiled for choice but don’t know which sources to trust.
Global leaders, Priceline and Expedia sell around 34m hotel rooms a month whilst other existing players are expanding their alliances with established brands. But business models need to change. Consumers want online travel agencies to sell solutions, not choices.
A survey of 3000 corporate leaders confirmed customer expectations are becoming harder to satisfy. Furthermore, 42% fear that dissatisfied customers will use social media network and peer-reviewed platforms to discredit travel companies that do not deliver. The balance of power has shifted to the consumer.
Part of the digital challenge for travel brands is earning trust. But in doing so, hotel owners, travel agents and tour organisers could resolve issues consumers having when making travel arrangements. With experts predicting ad blocking in the online space will increase, personalisation is the way to go to win over the hearts of customers.
What is personalised marketing?
Jerry Daykin reporting for the Guardian newspaper, predicts large scale personalised marketing will be the next big turning point in digital marketing. He describes personalisation as:
“the ability to reach different customers with different creative messages.”
In essence, the goal of personalised marketing is to provide travellers with information that appeals to their interests, price bracket, preferred time of travel and the device they are using to connect with brands online.
Appealing to individual audiences starts with one simple step: determine the specific needs and desires of consumers. As a marketing strategy, personalisation will inevitably start out as group targeting, but should be flexible enough to manage the expectations of individual customers the further along the sales funnel they are.
The challenge lays in knowing where your audience is. Whilst online searches are conducted across multiple devices by the younger generation, older generations may still prefer traditional practices of booking holidays.
There is also an issue of trust. Organisers and business owners are under pressure to deliver travel experiences that meet consumer expectations. Priority should be given to authenticity because social platforms can either be an asset or an enemy. Therefore, the content you publish must appeal to consumers without making promises you can’t deliver.
Video teasers in travel ads
Using video ads to leverage personalised marketing presents businesses across the travel sector with more potential to secure customers and meet their expectations.
Facebook IQ reports social media users in the UK are 1.2 times more likely to watch video ads on daily basis whilst 54% admitted they watch large volumes of video clips back-to-back without even realising.
Video marketing provides a human connection. Brands have the opportunity to reach travellers anywhere in the world and gives them a first-hand look at destinations and accommodation in ways they would never have dreamed of.
The biggest advantage of video is the capacity to accomplish product awareness and branding objectives that are not possible through other forms of digital media. With the emergence of 360 video, the level of viewer enjoyment has increased by 1.4 times that of standard video footage. By adding personalised elements, businesses can expect to drive viewers toward a specific call-to-action.
Personalised elements in video teasers include featuring popular landmarks, showing the views from hotel rooms, showcasing on-site facilities, and adding a unique twist designed specifically for your target groups.
How travel brands can utilise personalised marketing strategies
Although around 50% of travellers do not want agencies and tour operators to plan their trip for them, 84% of millennials and 73% of other generations admit they have made travel arrangements based on photos and social media updates published by other holiday makers.
Social media channels such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are trusted by consumers more than traditional advertising platforms such as TV and magazines. Whilst peer-to-peer recommendations remain a prominent source of travel inspiration, 39% of holiday seekers feel personalised marketing would make planning a trip more enjoyable.
It’s interesting to note that 31% of holiday seekers prefer input from a real person rather than automated systems and static communication. Booking engines may be convenient for organising multiple elements of a holiday from one centralised location, but they are not trusted sources despite the demand from travellers.
A campaign launched by Israeli Airline, Arkia, demonstrates that personalised videos are effective when communication is clear.
Reports claim that open rates in response to a personalised video increased by 70% compared to email communication.
Video marketing company, Eyeview, also provide a case study that claims personalised video helped to drive bookings in a crowded Vegas market for a leading international hotel group. Return on ad spend was 3.35 times more per dollar than traditional methods and site visits increase by x30.
Another downloadable case study published by the same company outlines how a personalised video ad helped an online travel site to generate more revenue through bookings. The video campaign generated over 16,500 unique site visits, 2.7 times more than the audience that did not have access to the video.
Consumers want personalisation and brands have to figure out ways of delivering in order to survive. Deloitte reports mass personalised marketing is the fastest growing trend across the board, and is becoming a necessity in competitive sectors such as the travel industry. Besides investing in technologies that deliver customised products, brands also have to find creative ways of driving customer engagement. For the travel industry, video is a powerful tool that is difficult to ignore.